Two Weeks in Vietnam | Suggested Itinerary
It might be the extreme case of wanderlust or maybe just FOMO (fear of missing out) but I can't stay in one city for an extended period of time when travelling. I can't help but do research into what else the country has to offer and then immediately my list of "must do in XYZ country" grows. I might of initially been drawn to Vietnam by the idea of exploring caves but that didn't mean I didn't want to visit the beaches, the ancient cities, the national parks and the ruins. And in my two weeks in Vietnam, I did just that exploring both the urban jungle and, well, the jungle jungle. If you are like me and what to experience as much as you can when you travel here is my two week itinerary for Vietnam:
Ho Chi Minh
My itinerary begins with flying into Ho Chi Minh, if flying into Hanoi then you can just reverse the itinerary.
Day 1: Take the day to learn about Vietnam's history at the War Remnants Museum (be warned its contains some confronting images from the war and can be quiet an emotional visit) and then head to the Independence Palace and take in the sights of the ornate meeting and reception rooms. Your feet and muscles will surely be sore by now after all that walking and your flight earlier so take an hour to get a relaxing massage before having dinner. I then recommending heading to the 51st floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower for drinks. Bitexco is the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City, so enjoy the expansive views of the light up city as your sip on cocktails.
Day 2: Book a day trip two hours out the city to the Cu Chi Tunnels to learn about Vietnam's techniques and strategies during the Vietnam War (or as the local's call it, the "American War")
Day 3: Catch a quick flight to Hoi An (overland travel would take up the whole day), we got a Jetstar flight for about $50AUD. Once settled in, take a walk around Old Town that looks beautiful at night lit up by brightly coloured lanterns. The river is also lined by numerous bars offering very generous happy hour specials (the hour apparently lasts all night), so a good chance to go bar hopping.
Day 4: If you want to get anything tailor made, Hoi An is the famous for it so head to a tailor in the morning to ensure you have plenty of time to get your items correctly fitted. Afterwards, explore Old Town during the day. Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so you have to buy a ticket to visit the attractions, a ticket costs 120k dong and gives you access to five sites such as the temples, assembly halls or the old houses. Spend the rest of the day exploring these sites. Make sure to also get a Banh Mi from Bahn My Phuong, its supposed to be one of the best Banh Mi places in the world and is dirt cheap!
Day 5: Day trip to what is known as Vietnam's Angkor Wat, My Son, an ancient Cham city that has the ruins of 20 temples.
|Old Town, Hoi An|
Day 6: Enjoy your last meal in Hoi An and pick up any clothes from the tailor before catching a bus to Hue, the journey will take about 3.5 hours.
Day 7: The main attractions of Hue are inside the moats of the Citadel, we had heard mixed reviews of Hue and the Citadel but we loved exploring all the sections of the Citadel, feeling like we had stepped back in time and walking the same paths as past Emperors. You can spend hours exploring the Citadel but after a few hours, the heat will probably get to you so have a delicious lunch and then head out for some pampering at My An Spa which contains a few different hot springs that you can soak your body in.
Day 8: Get a bus from Hue to Phong Nha, the journey takes about 4.5 hours. We borrowed a bike from our hostel and spent the afternoon cycling around and taking in the beautiful landscapes.
Day 9: I would highly recommend the National Park Tour booked through Easy Tiger Hostel; two caves (including a mud cave), zip lining, lunch and kayaking are all included. You can then catch the overnight bus to Hanoi
|Riding in Phong Nha|
Day 10: The north of Vietnam is COLD in January so you might want to spend the morning get some warm clothes like we did. Then spend some time at Hoa Lo Prison, which was originally used by the French to imprison the Vietnamese but during the Vietnam war held American prisoners of war. Check out the traditional Water Puppet Theater in the evening and shop the night markets.
Day 11: Book a day trip tour to Halong Bay and sail and kayak through the islands and explore Surprise Cave.
|Cuc Phuong National Park|
Day 12: Take a bus to the national park which also has accommodation. The journey will take about 2.5 hours. Explore the Botanical Garden on foot and pay a visit to the Primate Rescue Center and Turtle Sanctuary.
Day 13: Hire a scooter from the park office and explore the park on two wheels, make sure to check out the cave of the prehistoric man. In the afternoon, journey back to Hanoi
Day 14: Check off the remaining attractions such as the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and Ethnology Museum. This shouldn't take all day so if you have some time in the afternoon why not do something different, we did a Room Escape which was fun.
So there you have it, my two week itinerary in Vietnam!